Everyone knows the benefits of a well-marinated piece of meat. Generally, when one thinks of marinated meat, you’ll think of pork ribs, lamb chops, or steak marinade. But you can marinate just about anything. The trick is getting your flavour right and knowing what each flavour will do to the dish. The basics are simple: add your ingredients together in a bowl, apply it to the meat, and let it sit for a few hours to soak in. But if you want to marinate meat like a chef, here are some things to keep in mind.
Salt, Spices, and the Rub Marinade
Chefs don’t add every ingredient into their marinade for every dish. Sometimes, it pays to keep it simple. Salt is your best friend when it comes to a marinade, especially a steak marinade. Salt is easy and most effective at drawing out moisture and will penetrate the meat (don’t worry, you’ll still have enough moisture left to create a juicy piece of meat). If you cook high-quality meat, be generous with your salt.
Some of the most flavoursome dry marinades include spices like cayenne to give a kick, sweet and hot paprika, cumin, coriander, black pepper, toasted fennel seeds, oregano, sumac, or even mustard powder. Some cooks even prefer a dry marinade over a saucy one. It may sound counter-productive, but dry marinades have their benefits. With a wet marinade, the moisture will need to evaporate before a sear can develop, but a dry marinade will begin searing immediately. And if you want to be a little saucy, you can always apply a liquid element while cooking by brushing the meat with a delicious glaze, like honey. Whichever direction you choose to go with your spices, always add a good dose of salt and sugar. Simply rub the spice mixture into the meat and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge.
Acid and Enzymes
Acidic ingredients can benefit your marinating process; it adds flavour and helps to tenderise your meat. The most popular acidic ingredients include wine, vinegar, sherry, citrus juice, yoghurt, and buttermilk. While citrus will cure your meat, yoghurt and buttermilk hold in moisture. Any marinade containing alcohol will need to boil first. The alcohol can have a dehydrating effect on any type of meat, even salmon, chicken, and beef, so it’s best to keep the necessary moisture, because who wants a dry steak?
Besides acidic ingredients and beating it, there are other ways to create a tender piece of meat for the perfect dish. Natural enzymes break down the fibres in meat and protein and create soft, mouth-watering meat. Some examples are kiwi, papaya, yoghurt, figs, mango, and pineapple. Of course, the most efficient way to ensure a tender dish is to beat it, but why not have some fun by adding some flavour too?
Marinade Basics and Handy Tools
If you’ve chosen a wet marinade for your dish, too much marinade is a bad thing. It can lead to dripping, burning, and leave you with a boiled surface in place of a seared surface. Wipe off your excess marinade before adding it to direct heat; you can baste with more marinade over indirect heat. Go easy on the oils, too. While oil adds aromatic flavour, any professional will tell you that too much oil can cause burning and doesn’t penetrate the meat. Water-based marinades are your best option. All chefs will tell you to taste your food, so taste your marinade and bring balance to it once warm.
Here are the tools that you will need to create a balanced, professional, healthy marinade:
- A juicer to extract juice from citrus fruit.
- Tongs to turn over the ingredients.
- Bamboo skewers to thread food together.
- A pastry brush to apply the marinade.
- A shallow dish.
A shallow dish allows even coverage, and if you can’t cover all your meat, you can turn the meat every 30 seconds (where the tongs come in handy). Also, remember to soak your bamboo skewers. Wood burns under heat, and soaking them will prevent that. If your marinade contains citrus, vinegar, or garlic, use a glass or ceramic dish as a metal dish will react with the ingredients. For the perfect shallow dish to marinate your meat, click here [hyperlink: https://masterpro.co.uk/products/stainless-steel-shallow-casserole-24cm]. If your meat will sit in the marinade for longer than an hour, place it in the fridge to prevent bacteria.
Cook like a Professional
If you want to cook like a professional, it takes practice and trial and error. But with the right tools and the right flavour, you’re already there. Always have salt and sugar in your marinade, throw some enzymes and acids in for a well-tenderised piece of meat, and there’s nothing wrong with a dry rub marinade.